Challenges for Agricultural Research
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Challenges for Agricultural Research

As the world has changed during the past 50 years, so has agriculture. And so has agricultural research, which continues to confront new challenges, from food security to ecological concerns to land use issues. Indeed, as Guy Paillotin, the former president of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) has noted, agricultural research "has reached new heights in biology and is exploring other disciplines. It is forever changing, as are the needs of the society".

The changing challenges faced by agricultural research were examined in depth at a conference organised by the OECD’s Co-operative Research Programme on Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, together with the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Agriculture. Participants came from all agricultural sectors and included farmers, industry, scientists and decision makers, as well as other stake holders.

This publication presents the twenty papers delivered at the conference. They highlight recent major progress in agricultural research outcomes and address the challenges that lie ahead.

www.oecd.org/agriculture/crp

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Economic Balance on Competition for Arable Land between Food and Biofuel: Global Responsibilities of Food, Energy and Environmental Security You do not have access to this content

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Author(s):
OECD, József Popp

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Limited land is available globally to grow crops for food and fuel. There are direct and indirect pressures on forests and other lands to be converted from growing food for feedstock to be used for biofuel production. The balance of evidence indicates there will probably be sufficient appropriate land available to meet demands for both food and fuel, but this needs to be confirmed before the global supply of biofuel is allowed to increase significantly. There is a future for a sustainable biofuels industry, but feedstock production must avoid encroaching on agricultural land that would otherwise be used for food production. And while advanced technologies offer significant potential for higher greenhouse gas (GHG) savings through biofuels, these will be offset if feedstock production uses existing agricultural land and prevents land-use change. GHG savings can be achieved by using feedstock grown mainly on marginal land or that does not use land, such as wastes and residues (although this may compete with other uses of these materials). To ensure that biofuels deliver net GHG benefits, governments should amend, but not abandon, their biofuel policies in recognition of the dangers from indirect effects of land-use changes. Large areas of uncertainty remain in the overall impacts and benefits of biofuels. International action is needed in order to improve data, models and controls, and to understand and to manage effects.
 
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